Purpose: The primary purpose of this study was to explore how family caregivers of people with dementia experience transitions in occupations as they assume the caregiver role. Because unpaid family caregivers play a vital part in the scheme of health care, it is important to understand their supports, their perceptions of themselves as caregivers, and the impact of caregiving on relationships, identity, and physical and mental health. Many researchers have studied the effects of caregiver burden, yet minimal attention has been given to the lived experiences of caregiving on their daily roles and routines. Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was used to obtain data from eight caregivers through semi-structured interviews. Content analysis was then applied to all data. Results: The following categories were identified: 1) Benefits, which consisted of the positive experiences gained as a result of caregiving; 2) Consequences, which included the physical, mental, and emotional burdens attached to being a caregiver; and 3) Supports, which were positive resources utilized by caregivers to be both better prepared to care for their loved ones and more capable within their caregiving role. Conclusion: Findings confirm that unpaid caregivers of loved ones with dementia experience dramatic changes in many aspects of their lives. Caregivers felt a strong responsibility as a family member to provide care for their loved ones. It has been found that caregivers spend most of their time engaged in caregiver related tasks, consequently impacting their occupational balance and ability to engage in what they would like to do. Health care providers must be mindful of the changes that caregivers experience, by assisting them to increase supports, anticipate the consequences, and recognize and value the benefits.

Author Bio(s)

Katherine L. Groezinger, OTD, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Dallas, TX.

Cameron J. Honsa, OTD, is a recent graduate of the Midwestern University Occupational Therapy Program in Downers Grove, IL.

Darcey A. Wilkinson, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist in Chicago, IL and a recent graduate of the Midwestern University Occupational Therapy Program in Downers Grove, IL.

Emily K. Simpson, PhD, OTR/L, is Professor and Director of Student Research in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL. She also practices as an occupational therapist in community mental health.




Submission Location


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